China Says Citizens Can Travel. The World Isn’t Quite Ready.

ROME—For the first time in nearly three years, flights from mainland China is back in the air. But government in some destination countries not exactly red carpet.

In Italy, the first country in the EU to impose new restrictions on travel from China since the beginning of 2020, every passenger on all flights arriving from China — both Chinese nationals and international travelers. other foreign countries — must undergo antigen testing before leaving the airport.

Italian officials say more than half of the passengers on a flight to Milan that arrived on December 26 tested positive for COVID. Among them, the main variant found in the sequenced samples was Omicron, according to Italy’s new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who said the news was “consoling”. Those who test positive will be asked to isolate, but will not be offered state-funded accommodation to do so.

Italy has called on the larger European Union to adopt a similar stance, stressing that new variants can spread quickly. “Italy cannot be the only country implementing anti-COVID checks at airports for arrivals from China,” Italian Transport Minister Matteo Salvini wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The subject is on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting in Brussels, but several countries, including France, have said they will not sign off on the new restrictions.

Instead, the US is requiring a negative COVID test within two days of departure, a rule that applies even to those flying through Vancouver, Toronto and Seoul. Japan is also asking for a negative result before departure and has announced it will restrict airlines from adding new routes to China.

The restrictions are being added due to what the international community calls a “lack of transparency” from Beijing. Reports of overcrowded crematoriums and hospitals across China stand in stark contrast to official information from the government, which recently announced three new deaths from COVID.

Malaysia, India and Taiwan have also promised to step up contact tracing and may also require additional testing.

The UK and Australia are holding out and are not planning any new restrictions at the moment.

China, the country that abruptly ended its harsh zero COVID restrictions, will lift its quarantine for international arrivals on January 8, coinciding with the time many people will arrive to celebrate the New Year on January 22. first.

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